Friday, January 16, 2015

When Winning Becomes Something More

Back in October, I was attending an event when I saw a booth for a radio station. As I often do at similar events, I stuck a mailing label on an entry form and put it in the box on the table. I then walked away and forgot about it because what are the true odds of ever winning something from a radio station? Then the phone call came: I won a Dell Latitude laptop and would be able to pick it up from the radio station. I was shocked and excited because my personal computer was dying after six years. The next thing the woman on the phone said blew me away. As one of the eight winners of a personal laptop, I could nominate a deserving school or community center to win ten laptops. Immediately I asked if I was allowed to nominate the school where I worked.

Today a group of executives from Comcast and KYW Newsradio 1060 came to my school building to deliver ten brand new Dell computers. It was exciting and my students seemed happy to represent their school. I spoke with one of the executives while we were waiting for the reporter to arrive and he mentioned how nice it was that an inner city school won this year because he knows what a difference these computers will make for our community. We talked about the struggles my students face in the classroom and how additional computers will help them.

For those that don't live in the Philadelphia area, KYW Newsradio 1060 is a station that repeats the same stories often for people that are commuting. It's also the go to station when you stuck in traffic and trying to find out what happened on the road ahead. On my drive home from school, I listened to 1060am hoping to hear our interviews but I didn't hear it play. About ten minutes later, my mother called and said "was that your voice I heard on the radio?" I then sat listening to the live stream of the station for the next hour until finally I heard the repeat. I quickly grabbed my phone and used a recording app to get the audio. It kind of reminded me of my childhood when I would listen to the radio for hours just hoping to record that new hit song onto a tape. I am a true child of the nineties (technically eighties but who remembers their toddler years?).

So here's the interesting part which led me to write this rambling post regarding the entire experience. Since my sister, and then mother, aunt, etc. all posted the article on social media, I keep getting comments such as "Your students are lucky to have you" and "Super teacher! Nice job Cori." However, I'm having trouble understanding some of these responses. How did being lucky constitute being a good teacher? I could understand if I had written a grant, or organized fundraisers to get these computers but all I really did was put my name in a box at an event. The event wasn't even about education; it was a fundraiser for the local animal shelters and I took my dog for a day at the park. I know that these computers will really help our school but I just can't wrap my head about the attention I'm getting for it.

Since my colleagues found out about the new computers, I've been asked what I would be doing with them. Again, I just nominated my school. These computers were donated to our building, not directly to my classroom. I don't know any teacher that would turn down more computers for the classroom and I hope to see these computers put in the middle school classrooms, however I will respect the decision my principal makes. Ten computers can help any classroom or be split to help multiple classrooms. He sees the big picture and will know where the computers will do the most good for our students.

I am truly grateful to both the radio station and cable company for their community support. As one of my students stated to the reporter "It's nice to have people give us computers; we can't afford them sometimes."

borrowed image sources: KYW Newsradio 1060

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Action Plan - Google Hangout on Air for Holocaust Memorial Awareness

World War II and The Holocaust are often taught in classrooms, but how many of our students actually have that moment when they realize exactly what it means? They memorize the dates and names and then forget it after the test. It often saddens me when I hear of people talking about The Holocaust in the same manner they might refer to The Trojan War. What many students can't comprehend is that The Holocaust took place less than one hundred years ago.

At the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem, a separate memorial was placed for the children that were killed. The memorial is extremely simple with just a few candles and mirrors. However, the message is clear: not only must we remember those that died, but the infinity mirrors are used to represent all those that will never be born.

It is those somber thoughts which make me want to complete this project I have begun. I am going to bring Holocaust survivors to classrooms through a Google Hangout on Air (GOA). I am currently messing around with a few different formats which include one long HOA or multiple short HOAs. Using the Connected Classroom Google Community, I have connected with another GCT and we are working together to create this learning experience for our students. I have also emailed a few organizations to help connect us with survivors. My hope is that we will be able to connect with classrooms that might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear first hand accounts.

The hardest part of this program, and future conversations, is that while these people persevered and survived The Holocaust, they are all senior citizens. My step-father is the son of a survivor and his father died about ten years ago of natural causes. We must hear their stories while they are still here to tell them. Future generations of students might become even more disconnected from the events of generations before them. It is important that we preserve the stories from people that lived through it to keep the memories alive and prevent history from being repeated.

Action Plan - Google Doc

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My New Year's Resolution

2104 was an amazing year for me professionally:
  • Added Biology to my teaching certificate
  • All teaching certificates were updated to level II
  • Became an authorized Google Education Trainer
  • Presented at multiple conferences
  • Became a Google Certified Teacher

Now that 2014 has officially ended and 2015 has begun, I have made myself a few goals for 2015. These goals are for outside my classroom.
  • Write at least one blog post a month. It can be something about education in general, or a reflection on something happening with my career.
  • Organize a Hangout On Air (HOA) to connect Holocaust survivors with students around the world.
  • Continuing to present at regional conferences.
  • Become an Apple Distinguished Educator.
  • Begin my Master's degree in Educational Technology